This Month's Picks

Phantom Thread [OST] (CD)

Jonny Greenwood
Jonny Greenwood’s evolution from Radiohead guitarist/keyboardist to next generation Hans Zimmer has been fascinating and rewarding. His work for Paul Thomas Anderson’s lovely, disconcerting film Phantom Thread is one of his finest accomplishments. Like the movie, Greenwood’s score operates at a slightly more fevered pitch than everyday life. It’s ravishing and romantic, ruthless and unrelenting. Rarely has a soundtrack been this spot-on, this lovely, and unforgettable. More
Genre: Soundtracks

Here Come The Runts (CD)

AWOLNATION
AWOLNATION are back with their unique, ambitious take on heartland rock. Melding bluesy textures with a radio-ready production not unlike contemporaries such as Cage The Elephant, AWOLNATION also utilize fuzzy, heavy guitars that bring to mind Queens Of The Stone Age at their '00s peak. The songs themselves tend to follow the winning pattern of soft hook followed by loud hook and louder hook, riding an ecstatic high of catchiness throughout. It’s not for lack of nuance, rather AWOLNATION aim to make every moment arena sized, turning haikus into high fives. Is it possible for an album to be comprised solely of lighter-in-the-air moments? Here Comes The Runts does a damn good job at finding out. More
Genre: Rock

Culture II (CD)

Migos
Blame it on sequels. In every way the bigger, faster, and stronger update over its predecessor, Culture II is nearly double its length, too. With one hour and 45 minutes of music spread over a modest 24 tracks, and featuring a litany of star-studded features, Migos’ newest album is an absolutely massive release in the vein of overstuffed '90s rap blockbusters such as Life After Death or All Eyez On M e. Fortunately, out of any group working in hip-hop today, Migos come well-equipped to handle the spotlight. While initial single “MotorSport” brought promises of a dutiful “Bad and Boujee” imitation, thankfully elsewhere on Culture II the trio are not afraid to let their hair down. “Narcos” melds Latin American-guitar samples to a vicious trap beat and features some absolutely bonkers ad libs alongside a scene stealing Offset verse. “Supastars” is hip-hop gone '70s prog, with spacey synths draped across its thumping 808 bounce. And then there’s “Stir-Fry,” arguably the album’s greatest moment. Over an incredibly dense Pharrell beat, one that somewhat resembles an attempt to combine all his best known productions into a single song, Migos are up to the challenge; somehow fitting tongue twisting verses and effortless hooks into the madness. The result is a breathless, joyous burst of kinetic energy that marks a true evolution for Migos’ sound. “Stir-Fry” is destined to become a dance floor banger for years to come and elevates Culture II to instant classic status, hyperbole be damned. More
Genre: Hip Hop

Weather Or Not (CD)

Evidence
Member of underground hip-hop mainstays Dilated People releases his fifth solo album, Weather Or Not . Featuring a litany of savvy producers, including the Alchemist and Jonwayne, among others, this is an impeccably-made boom bap record for the diehards. There are no frills or pop features to be found; just dirty, old school hip-hop at its best. More
Genre: Hip Hop

I Like Fun (CD)

They Might Be Giants
I Like Fun? After 30-some odd years together, is that the sentiment TMBG’s hyper-literate brain trust has boiled down to? Is it a goof or another children’s album? The two Johns are the consummate professionals - the songwriter’s songwriters, as much mischievous sonic and lyrical tinkerers as they are masters of the craft. It doesn’t take long for those irreverent tendencies to show up, approximately 3 seconds in fact, as John Flansburg compares the loudness of a drum to a big rock that crushes you on opening track “Let’s Get This Over With.” From there we get the daydreaming thoughts of a murdered spouse over tango piano, a power-pop rumination on the indescribable, and a track that postulates a race of lake monsters that come up for air to vote on Election Day. “That’s my fun,” to hear the title track tell it. Agreed. More
Genre: Rock

Wrong Creatures (CD)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club might be the most aptly-named group of the past couple decades, since those four words kind of evoke their whole deal. Since their 2001 debut, BRMC’s formula has been largely un-freaked with, and it’s a sturdy, un-freakable one at that. Jesus & Mary Chain noise over a T-Rex stomp, featuring the Velvet Underground’s brittle tenderness in their softer moments and the ‘Stones particularly stoned version of the blues in their boogie. Wrong Creatures , the eighth album by the rock ‘n roll lifers, turns the volume down a bit on a slower, more meditative collection of narcotized ballads. Yet while the result is an album that leans more towards Chris Isaak than J. Spacemen, this remains a BRMC album through and through. So if you’re still wondering what to expect, just reread the band’s name again. More
Genre: Rock

What Makes You Country (CD)

Luke Bryan
Don’t say Luke Bryan ain’t country enough. Yeah, there’s a legitimate hip-hop beat on the R&B-inspired hit single “Light Up.” Yes, his subject matter may venture beyond the topic of drinking and women every now and again. But whatever you do, don’t say Luke Bryan ain’t country enough, because he’s got words for you, buster, courtesy of the title track. “I got my dirt road cred when I was twelve, on a no cab trailer hauling them bales.” Darn right. Now here’s a thought we can all get behind: “It might not have been you, but I can’t judge, just be proud of what makes you country.” There’s room for everyone on What Makes You Country . Even you city slickers can dig that. More
Genre: Country

From A Room: Volume 2 (CD)

Chris Stapleton
A songwriter in the outlaw country tradition, Chris Stapleton’s From A Room: Volume 2 serves up rootsy, atmospheric Americana that stands in stark contrast to the over-polished country pop dominating the airwaves. The album is a fine showcase for Stapleton’s many gifts; alternating between laid-back, down-home jams and slightly ominous forays into the Southern Gothic, each track is a world unto itself. Stapleton clearly knows what he’s doing: his ability to weave country soul and Appalachian folk into his work adds an extra level of sonic intrigue and an infusion of heart. This smart, authentic, and evocative album is one of the year’s best. More
Genre: Country

Songs Of Experience (CD)

U2
On Songs Of Experience , U2 channels the power of music to heal political divisions and find hope in the struggle. It’s a strong, cohesive album with Bono delivering his message with impassioned sincerity while stadium-ready riffs ring throughout the air. Basically, it’s classic U2 sounding more timely than ever. This earnest, adroit album will have listeners believing love, music, and compassion can change the world, too. More
Genre: Rock

Utopia (CD)

Björk
Bjork’s latest, Utopia , is the logical follow-up to her previous work on Vulnicura , another collaboration with producer Arca. This ethereal, abstract, intriguing album was written to (not surprisingly) explore the concept of utopias, but also to process the current political, environmental, and personal challenges the singer was facing. There’s an airiness to the album’s heady, otherworldly tracks, an interesting effect conjured up by the incorporation of a 12-piece Icelandic flute section into the melodies. Utopia is Bjork at her best: boundary-pushing, challenging, and emotionally connected. More
Genre: Rock